Originally Published on BecauseofThemWeCan
A little sunshine to make you smile today!
Johnathon Hines, an Atlanta Pre-K Teacher, became the first African American man to win Pre-K Teacher of the Year in Georgia.
Hines is a teacher at Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology in Atlanta, which is the first public school in Dekalb County, GA named after President Obama. Hines is being honored for demonstrating excellence in the classroom and for being one of the best Pre-K Teachers in the state according to Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs from the Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
The fourth year teacher often posts videos of his unique teaching style on his social media page, reading books like “Llama Llama Trick or Treat” over booming rap beats or drilling the kids on the continents, while encouraging them to break out their best dance moves. While studies have shown that children learn best through play, the commitment Mr. Hines has for his little ones goes far beyond the scope of good teaching tools.
“My vision was always to be a professional basketball player, not a teacher, but they say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” said Hines.
He played college basketball before earning a bachelor’s in Science and eventually going overseas to play ball. After he returned home to the U.S., Hines decided to switch gears. “I felt content that I had reached my personal goal as a professional basketball player, I knew that there was more in store for my life,” Hines told Because of Them We Can.
That’s when he decided to become a teacher. He worked hard learning the do’s and don’ts of teaching in the classroom and also how to educate the whole child and soon became a lead teacher. Hines said teaching was “a new calling for his life.”
According to DECAL, “Georgia’s Pre-K program is nationally recognized as an exemplary early childhood education program that significantly impacts school readiness skills in language, literacy and math.”
Teachers acknowledged by the state must exhibit outstanding success in their implementation of the program. Those named as “Teacher of the Year” serve as ambassadors for Georgia’s Pre-K program. Hines said winning the award is surreal. “Winning Pre K Teacher of The Year is one of the biggest milestones of my life. This was definitely an amazing feeling because I didn’t see myself obtaining such a lofty goal. It still seems unreal that I am ‘the Pre-K Teacher of The Year’ for the entire state of Georgia,” he told Because of Them We Can.
Stacy Stepney, Chief Academic Officer for the DeKalb County School District, said, “Mr. Hines is an extreme role model for those to come. He doesn’t even know his impact yet.”
The assistant principal at the school, Winfred Watts, echoed Stepney’s sentiments when she said, “It’s so good to see a man take care of our children the way that [Mr. Hines does].”
With all of the accolades Hines received, he said his primary focus is “instilling confidence” in his students “so that they truly believe anything is possible.” Mr. Hines also believes that with “self confidence,” his students will “excel in the classroom and in life.”
Congratulations Mr. Hines! Because of you, they can!